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Last Updated: Friday, 11 July, 2003, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Truman diary blasts Jews
Harry Truman
Truman is known as a great supporter of the Jewish cause
Former US President Harry Truman described Jews as "very, very selfish" in newly-discovered diary notes that have surprised scholars.

"They [the Jews] care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as D[isplaced] P[ersons] as long as the Jews get special treatment," he wrote in 1947.

"Yet when they have power, physical, financial or political, neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the underdog.

"Put an underdog on top and it makes no difference whether his name is Russian, Jewish, Negro, Management, Labor, Mormon, Baptist, he goes haywire.

"I've found very, very few who remember their past condition when prosperity comes."

Truman's remarks were found among 42 entries of a diary that had remained obscure in the Truman Library in Missouri for 38 years.

The apparent anti-Semitic tones have startled scholars as Truman - US President from 1945 to 1953 - is credited with helping bring about the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, despite opposition from his own Department of State.

"It did surprise me because of what I know about Truman's record," Sara Bloomfield, director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, told the Washington Post newspaper.

"Truman's sympathy for the plight of Jews was very apparent."

Election fears

Truman's latest diary was found at the back of a book entitled The Real Estate Board of New York Inc, Diary and Manual 1947.

It was recently discovered by staff reshelving the books, and "is probably the most important document the Truman Library has opened in 20 years," according to library director Michael Devine.

Although written in 1947, the diary does not include references to Truman's most significant achievements, like the Truman Doctrine to contain the spread of communism and the Marshall Plan of aid to post-World War II Europe.

    But notable entries include:

  • 25 July: Truman recounts a meeting at which he attempted to get General Dwight Eisenhower to run for president on a Democratic ticket in 1948, with Truman as running mate.

  • 28 July: "Terrible day" - the death of his mother. "Along the road cars, trucks and pedestrians stood with hats off. It made me want to weep - but I couldn't in public. I've read through thousands of messages from all over the world in the White House study and I can shed tears as I please - no-one's looking."

  • 7 March: "Doc tell's [sic] me I have cardiac asthma! Ain't that hell. Well it makes no diff, will go on as before."

  • 4 July: "Mrs Astor - [British] Lady Astor came to the car just before we started from Monticello [state of Virginia] to say to me that she liked my policies as president but that she thought I had become rather too much "Yankee". I couldn't help telling her that my purported "Yankee" tendencies were not half so bad as her ultra-conservative British leanings. She almost had a stroke."

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